You raise from the button in a tournament with J-10o. The big blind calls after a couple of seconds. You are both 60 big blinds deep. The board comes 8h-4h-3s. He checks to you. You bet half-pot, about three big blinds. He calls. The turn is the 9 of clubs. He checks to you. What do you?
Firstly, tell me, what does the guy have? Tell me, how do you know that? What did his timing give off there?
This is one of the most reliable tells you will ever get in poker, and it’s available to you online as well.
The guy taking just a couple seconds to call shows he did not need to think about his action. What hands would need to think about their action there?
Well, if you had a set or an overpair, you’d need to think about the dangers of smooth calling with flush draws and straight draws on the board. You’d have to at least consider fast-playing.
That would take you more time. 10 seconds. 15. When a guy takes three seconds there, he has a draw or a pair.
So when an overcard comes on the turn that doesn’t complete a draw, you should bomb the pot. Bet 1.6X pot. It’s called No Limit for a reason, not Pot Limit. Let’s see if he’s got a call with a four there. And if he does defend against you, what is he going to do? He’s not check/jamming. He has mostly pairs. He’s going to call you, which gives you a free shot to see if your open-ended straight draw hits.
If you read that hand history above and wanted to check back for the free card, I think you’re missing out on an extremely valuable bluff. The reason we’re missing out on it is because we’re not considering timing tells.
When I tried my hand at higher stakes and tournaments, I was astounded by how quickly high stakes players could smooth call with sets on coordinated boards. Their mannerisms were almost designed to make you think they had a weak eight on that board. They’d always let people fire into them when they “capped their range.”
When I moved back down to low-to-mid stakes tournaments and cash games, I was dumbfounded by how few players would ever slowplay a set on a coordinated board by calling immediately. They just didn’t have that play in their toolbox at all. It was a big indicator as to what they had.
For this reason, to this day, when I play anonymous online poker, I play as fast as I can. The second the action is on me, I put my bet out there.
The reason I do that is because I want to see how much time my opponent needs to react to my bet. If I piddle around for fifteen seconds, he now has 15 seconds to consider what he’s going to do to varying bet sizes. If I just put my bet out there the second the action is on me, then I get to see how long he needs.
If he takes 20 seconds to make a decision, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. He could have been watching football or grabbing a beer.
But many guys want to imitate your timing when you play like this, and they won’t realize they’ve begun giving you information.
When you absorb them into this game, they are giving away a lot. The quick reactions will give away they didn’t need to think. This typically caps their range at one pair, a draw, or a high card.
When they finally need time to think, they’re usually telling you they missed a draw or they have a big hand. Either way, you know it’s a hand that requires some thought.
Try to look for this the next time you play. I bet you will like the results.